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*the trip was a paid collaboration with Visit Rauma. All opinions are my own. Thank you!
Despite Rauma being a fairly small city, it has a lot to offer and is a great destination to spend a long weekend. Rauma, on the West coast of Finland, has a long maritime history as well as in lace-making – two things you should put on the top of your list for sure. Amongst Finns, Rauma is also known for their unique dialect.
But mainly, it is truly idyllic, with a stunningly beautiful and charming old town – the largest town of wooden houses in all of the Nordics. So well kept even, that Old Rauma itself has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991. So the main thing really is, come with some time, because you’re going to want to just wander and admire the beauty of the town!
When to travel to Rauma?
Lace Week in July is the biggest event of the year in Rauma, with lots of happenings not only related to lace and lace-making! Summer is a wonderful time to stroll around Rauma, but also the Christmas season is said to be absolutely magical, with local markets and lots of lights.
Walking around Rauma is an activity in itself – but I highly recommend joining a guided walking tour, to learn all about the different quirks of the town and understand all the little details. My favourite learnings:
1- the wooden houses all have names
2- in many windows, you can see dog figurines. If they point inwards, the man of the house is home, if they look to the outside, he’s not. A nice little nod to old-timey traditions!
3- some windows have a black contraption outside – they are mirrors, so the people inside can always see who’s snooping around their house. A bit odd, but I enjoyed that thought!
Bobbin lace is probably what Rauma is most famous for. You can find unique lace souvenirs in many shops where you can also meet the artists and learn to make lace yourself. I recommend a visit to Pits-Priia, where you can buy wonderful lace pieces. Fun fact: lace-making used to be mainly a craft for men, yet nowadays it’s mainly women who practise the art.
Rauma is located by the seaside, amongst a beautiful coastline and an archipelago of ca. 300 islands. One of them is Kylmäpihlaja, which is also home to a lighthouse – and an overall great and popular destination for a day trips and amongst boaters. The lighthouse has not only a restaurant but is also a hotel, so if you’re looking for a unique place to stay – make sure to check the availability with enough time ahead.
The boat ride from Rauma takes about 50 minutes each way. Enjoy a wander around the island (I have never seen so much sea-buckthorn!), you can also take your own food and camp overnight. The facilities are modern and well maintained.
But whatever you do, don’t miss out on the salmon soup – it is in my Top 3 salmon soups of all time.
One highlight of our visit to Rauma was a wonderful dinner at Kalatori restaurant. Located in the bottom floor of our hotel and next to the old fish market (hence the name kalatori = fishmarket). It was fully booked all evenings of the week, and with that menu it was no surprise. I hear that their lunch is also delicious, but if you have time, a dinner here is a treat. The food was local, seasonal and high quality, the service lovely and the wine was matched perfectly, too.
Summer markets in Finland are one of my favourite thing about the season anyway, and Rauma was no exception. Despite a quiet morning, there was local produce for sale, some Italian specialities and my favourite: the coffee cart. The place opens every single day of the year at 5 in the morning, and seems to have become the place to be for the elderly locals, which was great to observe such a lovely quirk.
We picked up some cherries and veggies for the upcoming week, and had a chat with the vendors – and it was the perfect morning!
In Rauma you can discover so much art, visit ateliers, workshops and galleries, but also admire local art just in the streets, like these kinds of sculptures like the lady sitting in front of a museum. Many local and international artists have their base here in Rauma, as they take inspiration from the nature, history and everything else in the city – and the wooden houses are a cozy and enjoyable work space.
With several permanent and changing exhibitions, the Maritime Museum in Rauma is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. The shipbuilding history in Rauma has strongly influenced its history, you can learn all about the seafaring and its importance in the magnificent building that used to be the nautical academy. From impressive figureheads to oddities from around the world there’s a lot to see, or you can try the boating simulator. My favourite part of the current exhibition was the showcase of the impact of the pandemic on seafaring around the world, as told by stories from different seamen and women.
Tickets: 9€ (adults)
Who doesn’t love a good city view? The Rauma water tower is the place to be for stunning views of Rauma from above – all the way to the seaside and with a great lookout over the Old Town. The restaurant has a nice lunch offer, that tastes even better with said view. The entrance to the top is free.
The second UNESCO world heritage site of Rauma is Sammallahdenmäki, and that there are two is special already. This burial site dates back to the Bronze Age, and is the largest and most complete collection of cairns from the Scandinavian Bronze age. If you have time for a tour, definitely go for it – so many small details of the site and the nature around it I would have definitely missed if it weren’t for our lovely guide. The 36 burial cairns within an area of 36 hectares are a good stop on your way to or from Rauma, depending on your direction.
Joining the Rauma locals with a coffee and enjoying a delicious treat, for some people-watching is one of my favourite thing to do whenever I travel. The best spots:
Wanhan Rauman KaffeBar – delicious munkki (donuts) and a popular salad lunch – so it’s no surprise this place is always packed. I especially love the mixed vintage interior!
Sali: by the market square, so just the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee on the terrace and enjoy the street vibes!
Hotelli Vanha Rauma: right at the edge of Old Rauma, this hotel has the perfect location to explore the town. Spacious rooms and a tasty breakfast are just what you need. Make sure to also plan for a dinner at Kalatori restaurant which is on the ground floor of the hotel.
Kalliohovi Hotel: another place that came recommended, which is also accessible and in a great location!
Because of the cobble stone streets, Rauma isn’t the most accessible town to visit, especially if there’s assistance needed. However, you can find a detailed list of services here that are accessible and recommended.